American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia

To complement “Like Water in Rivers: Acupressure’s Pathways of Qi” by Deborah Valentine Smith, B.A., L.M.T., Dipl. A.B.T. (NCCAOM), in the June 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: The American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia is dedicated to promoting health and wellness through the use of Asian bodywork therapies, and supporting practitioners of those therapies.


The American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA®) is a national, not-for-profit, professional membership association of practitioners, instructors, schools and programs of the various forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy. It was formed in 1989 when a number of associations and representatives of the various Asian Bodywork Therapy professions decided to unite into a single organization.

The vision of this united organization is “to support Eastern philosophical approaches to health and well-being by promoting Asian Bodywork Therapy,” with a specific mission “to provide our members with education and networking opportunities and to support their personal and professional development and success.”

The AOBTA’s logo, painted and presented to the AOBTA by professor Jin-Huai Wang, means “bodywork” in Chinese. The symbol dates back 4,000 to 6,000 years ago, to China; it was found carved on bones in ancient prescriptions such as, “For stomach pain, press on a point 3 cun [body inches] below the knee.” This prescription describes a pressure point still used for that same purpose in modern acupressure. Wang believed Asian bodywork is the mother of Chinese medicine, and rightfully the first branch.


Forms of Asian bodywork

The various Asian Bodywork Therapy professions the AOBTA now recognizes have their roots in China. Over the centuries China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, and more recently North America and Europe, have changed and evolved these forms of bodywork into separate and distinct professions. The AOBTA recognizes those forms of Asian Bodywork Therapy that meet its professional curriculum standards and have been approved by an application process. The following forms meet those professional standards and are formally recognized by the AOBTA:

  • Acupressure
  • AMMA
  • AMMA Therapy®
  • Chi Nei Tsang
  • Five Element Shiatsu
  • Integrative Eclectic Shiatsu
  • Japanese Shiatsu
  • Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure®
  • Jin Shou Tuina
  • Macrobiotic Shiatsu
  • Medical Qigong
  • Nuad Bo’Rarn (traditional Thai bodywork)
  • Shiatsu
  • Shiatsu Anma Therapy
  • Tuina
  • Zen Shiatsu



The AOBTA currently has about 1,100 active members in the U.S. and abroad. Member benefits include professional credentialing; optional, low-cost professional liability insurance; disability insurance; a membership newsletter; national and regional continuing education workshops; an Asian Body Therapy professional referral service; and professional development tools and resources, among many others.

A number of membership levels, some professional and some nonprofessional, are available. Professional membership levels include Certified Practitioner, Registered Instructor and Certified Instructor and require completion of well-defined educational standards and approval via a peer review process.

Nonprofessional membership levels include the Allied Membership, which is available to those health care professionals who incorporate at least 30 hours of training in the principles or techniques of Asian Bodywork Therapy or Oriental Medicine into their professional practices.


Deborah Valentine SmithAbout the Author

Deborah Valentine Smith, L.M.T., Dipl. A.B.T. (NCCAOM), has been an Authorized Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® Teacher, is nationally certified and an approved provider with the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, and is a certified instructor with the American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia (AOBTA). Deborah teaches at the Cayce/Reilly School of Massage in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the Shiatsu School of Vermont, Brattleboro. She wrote the article “Like Water in Rivers: Acupressure’s Pathways of Qi” on behalf of the AOBTA (, for the June 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.